Outpatient clinics, for example, provide treatment to people who are seen by a hospital clinician. When they issue a prescription, it’s usually a paper one that needs to be dispensed at the hospital outpatient pharmacy before the patient returns home. But what happens if they have their appointment over the phone or online, not in person?
“There have been a mix of workarounds in hospitals since the pandemic,” explains Singal. “Some ask patients to come in and collect prescriptions; others have devised an infrastructure to effectively deliver paper prescriptions to community pharmacies, or deliver medications direct to patients. In all these cases, it introduces an increased delay between a decision to initiate treatment and the medication being available for the patient.”
Before secondary care providers can implement EPS, however, IT system suppliers need to complete technical development work. “Our next challenge is to encourage more suppliers to build EPS into their systems," says Singal. "This is a big task because there are multiple suppliers in secondary care who each have their own development priorities.
“Alongside this, we’re also improving and innovating the existing service – for example, we’re working on functionality that would allow patients to track their prescription on their mobile phone. Essentially, we want EPS to do more things in more places.”
The Scott Street pharmacy is now part of the Well pharmacy group. Pharmacist Aneta Paluch is branch manager there. She began practicing in England 8 years ago when the adoption of EPS across primary care was gaining momentum.
“Things have improved a lot over the years,” Paluch reflects. “EPS makes it easier for everyone.” She would love to see the service introduced in secondary care.